Italy

Monreale Cathedral, Sicily, Italy

Tour of Sicily: Erice and Monreale

Sicily Italy Map

Sites visited in Sicily.

Erice, Sicily, Italy

Street Scene-Erice

Erice is a well-preserved medieval town dramatically set on a high peak southwest of Palermo, and a good overnight stop between Segesta and Palermo. The views of the coast and the surrounding valleys are well worth the steep drive up the hill.

Erice, Sicily, Italy

Our B&B-Il Carmine, former monastery

Our B&B in Erice was an old monastery right inside the walls of the town. It was a great location, but the beds were hard! Our stay gave us an appreciation for the austerity the monks must have endured.

Norman Castle, Erice, Sicily

Norman Castle, Erice

Walking around the perimeter of Erice, wandering through the town square and visiting the castles make Erice a great stop. 

Monreale Cathedral, Sicily, Italy

Monreale Cathedral Interior

From Erice we drove to Monreale. The interior of the Monreale Cathedral (dating from 1172) has some of the finest gold mosaic biblical scenes in all of Europe, and I marveled at the effort and expense required to create these mosaics. Monreale is just a few miles from Palermo, so don’t miss it.

Monreale Cathedral, Sicily, Italy

Monreale Cathedral Apse Exterior

There is a convenient bus and car park just below the Cathedral. Like many churches and other sites in Sicily, Monreale cathedral closes in the middle of the day for a couple hours, so get there in the morning or the later afternoon

 

 

 

Caccomo, Sicily, Italy

Tour of Sicily: Cefalù and Caccamo

Sicily Italy Map

Sites visited in Sicily.

Cefalu, Sicily, Italy

Cefalu, Sicily

Cefalù is on the northern coast of Sicily, about 40 miles east of Palermo. We made a stop here on a day trip from Palermo. It’s fast road between the two cities, and we paid a couple small tolls as we got closer to Cefalù. The old town and Duomo are set below the rock cliffs (La Rocca) and the sea.

Cefalu Cathedral, Sicily, Italy

Cefalu Cathedral and Square.

La Rocca can be hiked, leading to some prehistoric ruins (Tempio di Diana) and 12th century castle ruins. If we had allowed more time, I would have loved to hike up La Rocca.  The Duomo of Cefalù is one of the great Norman Cathedrals of Sicily, and dates from 1131. There is a pleasant piazza right in front of the Duomo that is good for a relaxing meal. There is also a beach near the town, but it was cloudy and the sea was rough on the day we were there.

Caccomo, Sicily, Italy

Caccomo, Sicily

While in Cefalù, I saw a picture of the small town of Caccamo, and decided to take a side trip to this town on our way back to Palermo, and I’m glad we did. It was just about 6 miles off the Palermo-Cefalù highway. Caccamo is a quiet little town set on a hillside overlooking a valley. We went through the Norman castle at the west end of town (not too much to see, it is undergoing renovation), and then wandered the streets down to Chiesa Madre di Caccamo. Drive to the eastern side of the town for a great view of the town and valley.

Caccomo, Sicily, Italy

Chiesa Madre di Caccamo.

 

Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Tour of Sicily: Palermo

Sicily Italy Map

Sites visited in Sicily.

Of all the locations we visited in Sicily, Palermo was probably our least favorite. It has some interesting sights (shown below), but lacks much open space in the central area, and with a few exceptions, lacks any real grand attractions. There is a lot of trash everywhere, so it feels somewhat dirty, run down and overcrowded. Hey, this is Italy. In these regards, it is similar to Naples. We spent a day and a half in Palermo (including Monreale) and felt satisfied with what we saw in that time.

Cripta dei Cappuccini, Palermo, Sicily

Skeletons in the burial dress in Cripta dei Cappuccini

Our first stop was the Cripta dei Cappuccini, in Convento dei Cappuccini. Seeing all the remains of men, women and children still dressed in their finest clothes of the period and displayed in standing form on the walls from the 1600’s to 1800’s was a sight I will never forget. The Convent is in the proximity of the main road from Monreale into Palermo.

Other sights in Palermo:

Palermo Cathedral, Palermo, Sicily

Palermo Cathedral.

The Palermo Cathedral is big, but more interesting from the outside than inside. It was rebuilt many times over the centuries, and like a number of churches in Palermo has Arabic as well as Norman influences. The exterior architecture has interesting features from the 1400’s-in particular the Portico and Towers.

Cappella Palatina, Palermo, Sicily

The mosaics of Cappella Palatina

The Cappella Palatina. Part of the Norman Palace in Palermo. This is the most stunning sight in Palermo, and almost equal to Monreale Cathedral. Founded in 1132. It has stunning gold mosaics and also intricate carved wood ceiling.

Palermo, Sicily, Italy

“Fountain of Shame” – Fontana Pretoria

Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Quattro Canti intersection – Palermo (fashion district, dates from 1600’s)